Research at Leeds Beckett
Dr Margarita Gomez Escalada
About Dr Margarita Gomez Escalada
Following an undergraduate honours degree in Medical Microbiology at Leeds University, Margarita went on to do a PhD in Cardiff University under the supervision of Professor Denver Russell regarding the activity and resistance of bacteria to the biocide Triclosan. Following graduation she undertook two post-doctoral research fellowships in the United States, the first at Colorado State University and the second at Kent State University, Ohio, which concentrated on the molecular mechanisms of resistance to biocides and molecular detection methods for pathogens.
Margarita’s research interests revolve around novel antimicrobials concentrating particularly on plant extracts and compounds obtained from plants (phytochemicals) and their action against a variety of pathogens.
Margarita teaches introductory microbiology, food microbiology and medical microbiology to a range of courses including BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences in modules such as The Microbial World, Infectious Diseases and Global Topics in Infectious Diseases. She also teaches advanced microbiology modules at masters level within MSc Microbiology and Biotechnology in modules such as Infection and Immunity, and Advances in Medical Microbiology. She also teaches microbiology on other courses within the faculty of health and social sciences such as Adult Nursing, Environmental Health and Post-graduate diploma in dietetics. Margarita also supervises undergraduate and master’s level projects in a variety of research projects relating to her areas of expertise.
Margarita has extensive expertise in the testing of antimicrobials, specifically disinfectants and antiseptics. She has also conducted comprehensive research in the area of resistance both to antibiotics and biocides, including links between the two. She has particular interest in the antimicrobial properties of plant extracts and phytochemicals, particularly for the treatment of topical infections of the skin, such as acne, athlete’s foot and ringworm. This is of particular interest as the discovery of antibiotics has slowed down considerably over the past few years and antibiotic resistance is currently on the increase. Plant derived compounds offer an alternative to antibiotics and antiseptics particularly for those that are used on the skin and thus antibiotics can be reserved for the use of life-threatening infections.Current projects she is undertaking regard the development of tests regarding the antifungal activity of plant-based compounds and skin models for testing antiseptics. Margarita also collaborates with Dr Andrew Paterson in determining the toxicity of plant compounds on human cells and the effect of plant compounds in the attachment of bacteria to gut epithelial models.